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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  October 21, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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coffee. >> we look forward to having the mayor. >> twhoont be beautiful. see you at 6:00. were they joining the enemy? three teenaged girls from colorado go missing before being caught overseas. why the fbi fears they were headed for isis. flight risk. new rules in effect for certain travelers now as the feds move to restrain the ebola panic. walking again. a man whose spine was severed, able to use his legs again, thanks to a big development in modern medicine. and "making a difference." one of our favorite stories about a pair of best buddies and the amazing way one is helping the other to get better. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. tonight three young women, all of them from america, are being closely watched after apparently
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trying to join islamic militants in syria while this fight against isis is going on. before they were stopped and returned to their families in denver by agents of the fbi. this is something that authorities in the u.s. and canada have feared, something they've been watching for. it's where we begin tonight with our justice correspondent, pete williams. >> reporter: it's the kind of thing u.s. officials have been fearing since isis began an outpouring of recruiting propaganda in english. u.s. and german authorities say an apparent plan by three american teenaged girls to get to syria ended here at the frankfurt airport over the weekend. tipped off by the parents, german airport security stopped the girls and told them they were wanted back home. officials say the three left friday on a night from denver, through chicago. then with tickets to fly on to istanbul and turkey. u.s. officials say they believe the girls intended to go from there to syria to join up with jihadists, perhaps isis, perhaps
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another group. arrests in the u.s. for people seeking to help terrorists are three times higher this year than a year ago. attorney general eric holder said recently that a huge concern is the radicalization of people in the u.s. via the internet. >> they're in front of computer screens, and for whatever reason, somehow get activated as lone wolves to take action. that's what keeps me up at night. >> reporter: because the girls are underage, officials tonight say it's doubtful any charges will be filed, but investigators will be poring through the girls' communications, looking to see if others were involved. >> pete williams starting us off from our d.c. newsroom. thank you for that, pete. while the u.s. military continues to drop bombs on isis targets, it has also dropped supplies to the kurdish forces who are fighting isis on the ground. but in the process some of those supplies, including weapons, have apparently fallen into enemy hands. our report on that tonight from our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. >> reporter: in all wars there are uncontrollable factors, like
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wind, and this time it seemed to blow in isis' favor. an american-delivered bundle, intended to help fight isis in kobani, apparently landed in the hands of the militants. old grenades, some rpgs, newer grenades. isis called them spoils of war in this propaganda video, but they're unlikely to change the course of the month-long battle for kobani. the u.s. military says it's trying to verify the video. it acknowledges that one of the dozens of bundles it air-dropped this weekend did go off course but was later destroyed by an air strike. in this war by remote control some mishaps are probably unavoidable, but the alternative, doing nothing or sending in ground troops, both of which the administration has ruled out. the fact is, isis is already well armed with weapons and equipment stolen from the iraqi army. most of it american made.
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richard engel, nbc news, istanbul. there are new developments tonight and efforts to combat ebola fears. while some have been calling for an outright ban on travel to the u.s. from western africa, the obama administration chose not to go that far. instead, opting to funnel passengers from that part of the world into certain u.s. airports. we get our report on that tonight from jacob rascon. >> reporter: ebola is changing the way we travel -- again. the department of homeland security announcing today every person traveling from one of the three ebola-stricken countries into this country must now fly into one of five u.s. airports with enhanced screening, where temperatures and travel history are taken. and today we learned of the 562 travelers who have been screened since the extra measures began a week and a half ago, four were taken to a medical facility as a precaution, none tested positive for ebola. >> the past three weeks have taught us that treating infectious disease like ebola is
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not just a theoretical problem. >> reporter: and in texas governor rick perry announced the hospital where liberian native thomas eric duncan died from ebola, and two of his nurses got infected, will no longer handle ebola treatment in the state. instead two hospitals in texas have been designated as ebola treatment centers. and in the dallas neighborhood where duncan's fiancee, louise trouw, "now" lives after being cleared from ebola quarantine, police hand out flyers about the virus trying to calm nervous. -- nerves. some very good news to report which we just learned. nbc cameraman ashoka mukpo has been declared ebola-free and we learned nurse nina pham is doing better. her condition has been upgraded from fair to good. >> all of it good news to be able to report tonight. jacob, thanks. a sharp eye. an associated press journalist noticed an unusual sight today at the airport in north korea. here it is. an aircraft with united states
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of america markings parked right there on the tarmac. we later learned the aircraft had landed there to bring an american home. nbc's chris jansing has the story from the white house tonight. >> reporter: it was the ride 56-year-old jeffrey fowle of ohio, husband of tatiana, father of three, had been waiting six long months to get. >> we can confirm that jeffrey fowle has been allowed to depart the dprk and is on his way home to rejoin his family. >> reporter: fowle had gone to north korea on a tourist visa, and after leaving a bible in a hotel, he was arrested, accused of proselitizing in a country that sees religion as a threat to government. he made a heartfelt plea to be released. state department officials say the deal happened very fast. there was a small window to get the plane and its military crew from hawaii to pyongyang. >> mrs. fowle and the children miss jeffrey very much. >> reporter: his lawyer expects fowle to be home tomorrow. and a city where he was an equipment operator for 26 years,
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moraine, ohio, posted a "welcome back" message on its website. fowl is one of seven americans released from north korea in the last five years. but two are still being held. matthew miller and kenneth bae, both reportedly sentenced to hard labor. tonight the white house is calling on the north korean government to release those americans. now, the state department strongly warns against travel there, but north korea likes the hard currency tourism brings in, and advertises everything from surfing to skiing. >> chris jansing at the white house for us tonight, thanks. weather is once again in the news tonight, up and down the eastern seaboard. look at the scene in west palm beach, florida. major flooding after at least nine inches of rain in parts of palm beach county, as a system just parked itself over that area for several hours. to the north millions dealing with a huge nor'easter that's forecast to stick around for a few days. right now it stretches from west virginia and north carolina, north all the way to maine, bringing torrential rain, high
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winds, and flooding along the coast. we have an update tonight on this sweeping recall of defective air bags in upwards of 16 million cars. as we reported here last night, the air bag-inflating mechanism can explode, sending metal shrapnel flying inside the car. safety advocates claim four people have been killed, dozens injured by this. now members of congress are demanding answers. we get the very latest from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: 18-year-old ashley parham should have never died from a minor accident in a high school parking lot, but the air bag inflating device in her 2001 honda exploded, firing metal shrapnel through the bag into her neck and chest. >> i literally got there in seconds and watched an 18-year-old girl who had her whole life ahead of her literally die in front of me inside that vehicle. >> reporter: it happened in 2009. investigators later determined the metal shards had cut ashley's carotid artery.
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in orlando, 26-year-old corey burdenic lost the use of an eye after an air bag exploded during an accident last may. he's now suing honda and the air bag manufacturer, tokyo-based takata corporation, which made the air bags in mexico. in a statement takata says, we'll continue to fully support the government's investigation and our customers' recalls in every way possible. today the list of recalls stands at 16 million vehicles involving some of the world's biggest automakers. >> the quality control problems at the factory have not been remedied for more than a decade, which is leading to these air bag-inflater problems that find their way into cars today. >> reporter: humidity is thought to cause the air bag canisters to misfire. just yesterday the federal government issued a rare urgent appeal for affected drivers in hot, humid climates to act as quickly as possible. the concern, 25% of drivers who receive recall notices don't act on them. these recalled cars are among the most popular for the past 12 years. the challenge is to get recall notices out to the drivers who
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bought them second- and third-hand. the older the car, the more likely that is. tom costello, nbc news, washington. it is hard to overstate just how big a star oscar pistorius was in the new south africa as he was all about overcoming adversity. it's also hard to overstate the anger and embarrassment some south africans feel watching his trial, the first of its kind to be broadcast live there. today he was sentenced to maximum five years in prison for culpable homicide, as they call it, in the shooting death of his girlfriend model, reeva steenkamp. while he could get out after only ten months served under south african law, it still seems steenkamp's family would be satisfied with that. >> he could be out in a year. >> doesn't matter. he's going to pay something. >> do you think justice has been served? >> yes. >> pistorius shot reeva steenkamp through a bathroom door at his home valentine's day 2013, claiming he thought she was an intruder. the headline of "the new
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york times" obituary read, oscar de la renta, who clothed stars and became one, dies at age 82. they went on to call him the last of a generation of tastemakers. that's how he was remembered today, as bold and charming and funny, also determined and fearless. nbc's andrea mitchell tonight has a look back. >> reporter: to the end he was at the top of his game, designing amal clooney's gown for the wedding of the year. a perennial favorite on the red carpet. the culmination of decades of dressing celebrities off screen and on. >> oscar de la renta. now that is pure poetry. >> reporter: the 18-year-old who left the dominican republic for europe with no training and became the first latino to conquer paris couture and then america. >> he really was a trail blazer in terms of being one of, you know, a latin american designer that made it not only in the u.s. but in europe.
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>> reporter: he designed everything from the boy scout uniforms to the inaugural suits and gowns for first ladies who also became close friends across political lines. hillary clinton posing in an oscar for a "vogue" cover, a first by a first lady. his designs exhibited this month at the bush library. even worn in public for the first time two weeks ago by michelle obama. a quiet philanthropist, de la renta remained an unofficial ambassador for his native country, supporting an orphanage, adopting his son moses, creating magical homes and gardens where he entertained with his beloved wife annette. after battling cancer on and off for eight years, he said last year -- >> i'm having a fantastic time, and i love every single day. >> reporter: today his close friend "vogue" editor anna wintour wrote he told her recently he had the most amazing life and he was not afraid. this strength, she wrote, must have been with him in the hospital last week when he made the decision to turn off treatment. it was not the quality of life
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he wanted. artist, showman, mentor to an entire generation, oscar de la renta was 82. and late word tonight of another big loss. ben bradlee has died tonight at his washington home at the age of 93. he ran "the washington post" for 26 years, teaming up approximate kathryn graham to support bob woodward in the trail-blazing investigation of the nixon white house. they also teamed up to white the white house to publish the pentagon papers, a secret history of the vietnam war. in recent years, she was in failing health due to alzheimer's, according to his wife. brian? >> and we're back with more from new york on this tuesday night right after this.
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this is the kind of medical news we like to pass along from time to time, the story of a breakthrough for those paralyzed and unable to walk due to spinal injury, this is reason for new hope. and perhaps most fascinating about this, this treatment is rooted not in the sense of touch, as you might expect, but in the sense of smell. we get the story tonight from nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: the steps are tentative but extraordinary like being born again says darek fidyka.
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his spine was injured in a knife attack. walking appeared to be in his past. until fidyka underwent an experimental procedure, a world first, developed by british scientists and polish doctors. first doctors removed a bulb that controlled the sense of smell at the base of the brain, then they grew olfactory ensheathing cells and transplanted them into fidyka's spinal cord to trigger nerve regrowth. finally they grafted pieces of a nerve across the gap in the spinal cord. >> what we've done is established a principle. that is, nerve fibers can grow back and restore function provided we give them a bridge. i believe this is the moment when paralysis can be reversed. >> reporter: fidyka's recovery, documented by bbc-1's panorama program, happened slowly. three months after the surgery, he noticed his left thigh gaining muscle. at six months he took his first steps using parallel bars and wearing leg braces. two years later fidyka is walking outside with the help of a walker.
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but scientists caution this is just one person and the technique has yet to be replicated. >> spinal cord injury comes with multiple problems, and you don't solve multiple problems with just one solution. >> reporter: scientists hope to try this technique on ten more patients, ten more people who may get to experience again what fidyka describes as an incredible feeling. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. and we're back after the break with an amazing moment caught on video. a surprise at the polling station. a jealous boyfriend and, what else, the president of the united states.
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back home in chicago for a fund-raiser, president obama took advantage of early voting in his precinct, where he encountered a man who was voting with his girlfriend yesterday morning, and things took a turn when the boyfriend made a joke directed at the president and some affectionate back and forth ensued.
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>> don't touch my girlfriend. [ laughter ] >> did he just say that? >> i really wasn't planning on it. >> i am sorry. please excuse me him. >> now there's an example of a brother embarrassing you for no reason. for no reason whatsoever. >> i knew he was going to say something smart, i didn't know what he was going to say. >> now, you'll be going back home talking to your friends -- what's his name? >> mike. >> i don't believe make is such a fool. >> he really is. >> i was just mortified. >> fortunately the president was nice about it. >> i am freaking out right now. >> so was i. give you a kiss and give him something to talk about. [ laughter ] >> take care. >> that's about how it went. the couple said today if and when they plan to get married, they would send an invitation to the white house, hoping their
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neighbors, the obamas, would attend. the ceo of the total oil company was killed last night when his jet collided with a snow plow on the runway on takeoff from moscow. the russians said the plow driver was drunk at the time, and he was unhurt. total is among the biggest businesses in all of france and ceo christophe de marjerie was a longtime acquaintance of vladimir putin. when we come back tonight, how our viewers are helping an incredibly young author find a cure for his best friend's rare condition.
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"making a difference" brought to you by cvs health, because health is everything. each night this week here we're checking back in with the people we have featured in our favorite "making a difference" reports. they are the people who inspired our viewers to help. so all week long here we're calling it, for good reason, you made a difference. and tonight the book so many of you bought for a good cause and the third grader best friends behind it all. our follow-up report tonight from nbc's kate snow. >> reporter: jonah pournazarian
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and dylan siegel spend a lot of time together. how old were you guys when you started playing together? >> i don't really know. >> i don't know. like 3? >> that's a long time ago. >> reporter: jonah has glycogen storage disease, a rare genetic disorder that makes it hard for his body to process glucose. they feed him a special corn starch diet every three hours even through the night. >> if i miss a feeding, he could have a seizure, go into a coma and die. >> reporter: when dylan was 6, he decided to write a book to raise money for his friend. it's called "chocolate bar." what does chocolate bar mean? >> it means awesome. >> reporter: what started with a big idea, some crayons and paper has been wildly successful. more than 20,000 copies shipped to all 50 states and 56 countries, from australia to denmark. >> i don't think any of us could imagine. >> except dylan. >> dylan's the only one that had the imagination. >> reporter: it's brought the two families together. jonah's parents paid to print and ship the book so that every
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penny made goes to the university of florida research lab. >> i like to go to the beach. >> that's so chocolate bar. >> i like go swimming. >> that is so chocolate bar. >> reporter: last month the boys were authors in residence in a elementary school near houston, also streamed to more than 800 students. >> it just goes to show that anyone in this world can make such a profound impact. it's changed our lives, it's changed his life, and it's changed the lives of so many families because of what a 6-year-old did. >> reporter: book sales have totaled more than $800,000. dylan's goal is to raise a million. "chocolate bar" did that, but the thing is, jonah can't eat a lot of chocolate. if they found a cure, do you think you'd be able to eat a whole chocolate bar? >> yeah. >> reporter: helping find a cure for your best friend? that's the most chocolate bar of all. kate snow, nbc news, los angeles. that's our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. of course, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. goodnight.
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right now at 6:00, he was getting personal credit card rewards using tax dollars. now he's out of a job following our investigation. good evening and thanks for being with us, i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. he's fired. a public official in santa clara county out of a job after our investigation found he used tax dollars to get travel perks. >> jenna broke the story and joins us with the very latest.
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>> reporter: last month an investigation showed he used personal credit cards to rack up rewards points and now he's no longer in charge. the board of supervisors made the decision yesterday and his firing was announced at today's board meeting. >> the board unanimously voted to release john vartanian from his position of the county director of child support services. >> reporter: the move comes after our investigation last month. we analyzed thousands of travel documents and e-mails and spoke with former and current employees to expose his practice of putting tens of thousands of dollars of expenses on his personal credit cards to earn rewards points. the county paid him back while he banked the points. over the past ten years we found he spent more than $162,000 on parking spaces for the county, as well as travel for more than 30 employees. some employees told


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